A business guru is helping a social enterprise take its first steps towards making a difference.

Spero Support Services triumphed in Croydon Commitment’s Dragon’s Den challenge last year.

The company aims to provide an outreach service to vulnerable males with a view to establishing a hostel for those who are long term homeless.

Their prize was to work under the tutelage of a Dragon, a business expert in Croydon, in this case Newsquest South London managing director Howard Scott.

He said: “I am delighted to be working with Spero as they launch their business.

"Their enthusiasm and commitment to young people at risk in Croydon is extraordinary and they deserve success.

"The existence of CIC’s is still unknown by many people. The mix of business dynamic, coupled with community intent, makes them an interesting alternative to charitable status and for the more entrepreneurial minded, such as the founders of Spero, provides the perfect vehicle to take their ideas forward."

Founders Victoria McLeod-Gayle and Saffron Golding said the help has been invaluable as they begin the early days of being a Community Interest Company (CIC).

Victoria said: “He’s been really helpful. With his links to Croydon Commitment we have made lots of contacts within the industry.

“It is great to work with someone who has sound business knowledge giving us feedback.”

The development of CICs has provided new opportunities for companies looking to provide a social enterprise.

The advantages of CICs is they can pursue commercial ventures to generate revenue while still acting as a charity and applying for funding.

Saffron explained how this gave Spero greater freedom and the opportunity to raise funds in areas not accessible previously.

She added: “We liked the idea of being able to generate our own income alongside any funding.

"It gave us scope to do different activities which might not have been covered by the funding.”

Spero have taken inspiration from a fellow CIC in Croydon, Eco-Actif Services which offer practical help and support for out of work people, including ex-offenders (in an out of custody) and recovering addicts.

The company run a number of successful and innovative programmes tackling the problems connected with long term unemployment and social exclusion.

Anna Burke, training director at Eco-Actif, said: “Being a Community Interest Company has really opened doors to us and helped us to access opportunities we would not otherwise have had.

“We were Highly Commended finalists in this year’s South London Business Awards and have two new large contracts starting this month, including running the Clink Restaurant, the first commercial restaurant inside a prison.

“This has enabled us to take on five new full-time people in the last few weeks, quite an achievement in these difficult times.”

Spero are looking for volunteers.

For more information, or to donate to Spero, email speroservices@googlemail.com

• Got a great story for us? Let us know by email here, phone the newsdesk on 020 8330 9555 or leave a comment below.